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Strike Force Targets Those Selling Sex in the Bakken

A new multi-agency law enforcement effort in North Dakota looks to crack down on sex trafficking and other serious crimes. Credit: madame.furie/Flickr.
A new multi-agency law enforcement effort in North Dakota looks to crack down on sex trafficking and other serious crimes. Credit: madame.furie/Flickr.
June 8, 2015

BISMARCK, N.D. – A major crackdown on crime is coming to oil-rich western North Dakota with the creation of the Bakken Organized Crime Strike Force.

The effort is aimed at identifying, targeting and dismantling organized crime in the region, including drug and weapons smuggling, white collar crimes and human trafficking.

The strike force will be a multi-agency collaboration, and Christina Sambor, coordinator of the anti-trafficking organization FUSE North Dakota, says cooperation is key.

FUSE stands for a Force to End Human Sexual Exploitation.

"Human trafficking is definitely an example of something that really benefits from cross-disciplinary and cross-jurisdictional cooperation,” Sambor points out. “Coordinating between the U.S. Attorney's Office and BCI (Bureau of Criminal Investigation) and working with local law enforcement will assist in all of those agencies doing better and better work."

The Department of Justice says the oil boom in the Bakken has resulted in dramatic influxes in population as well as serious crimes, including commercial sex rings, the importation of pure methamphetamine from Mexico and multi-million-dollar fraud and environmental crimes.

Sambor notes that while some of those in the commercial sex industry are women, there are also people selling the services of underage girls.

"There has definitely been several prominent cases that have involved identifying minors that have been trafficked into North Dakota from, most recently, there were a couple of minors that were trafficked from Las Vegas,” she relates. “So there's definitely a component of it that involves minors."

John Michaelson, Public News Service - ND